Beyond Technology: The Fourth Industrial Revolution in the Developing World

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There are not going to be driverless Ubers in Lagos anytime soon. Robots are not going to steal millions of jobs from American miners or factory workers. Nor will our genes be spliced with technological enhancements to defeat diseases and to supercharge our neurons. Not yet, at least. But we are beginning to see symptoms of the globally disruptive phenomenon known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). Rapid periods of past technological industrialization have created tectonic shifts in societies throughout human history. Diverse technologies have grown and scaled to knock off behemoths and traditions to become the next giants themselves. 

Some of these technologies that will define next-generation human enterprise, connectivity, and lifestyles already are here, but they haven’t been scaled to everyday utilization. For example, the vertical lift technology for flying cars has been around for years, but the regulatory environment, legal considerations, and other issues currently outweigh the benefit to innovate. Just because society has these technologies does not mean they will roll out. There are growing speed bumps to technology around privacy, competition, and equitable access. Technologies’ dramatic impact on everyday life could take a long time, but just like previous revolutions, if we do not plan for these evolutions now, we won’t benefit from them in the future.

This report is made possible by the generous support of the Royal Embassy of Denmark.


Daniel F. Runde
Senior Vice President; William A. Schreyer Chair; Director, Project on Prosperity and Development
Erol Yayboke

Erol Yayboke

Former Director, Project on Fragility and Mobility and Senior Fellow, International Security Program
Romina Bandura
Senior Fellow, Project on Prosperity and Development, Project on U.S. Leadership in Development
Senior Associate (Non-resident), Project on Prosperity and Development

MacKenzie Hammond

William A. Carter